U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


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Wostenberg, D.J., N. Walker, K.A. Fox, T.R. Spraker, A.J. Piaggio, and A. Gilbert. 2018. Evidence of two cocirculating canine distemper virus strains in mesocarnivores from Northern Colorado, USA. Journal of Wildlife Diseases 54(3):534-543. doi: 10.7589/2017-09-238


U.S. government work.


Canine distemper virus (CDV) is a highly contagious pathogen that principally infects wildlife and domestic carnivores. Peridomestic species such as raccoons (Procyon lotor) experience outbreaks with high mortality. Clinical signs of infection include anorexia, fever, respiratory infection, and neurologic complications. Although not zoonotic, CDV poses a high risk to unvaccinated domestic animals and the conservation of endangered species. During 2013–16, we opportunistically collected wild and domestic carnivore specimens through a rabies surveillance program in northern Colorado, US. Brainstem and cerebellar tissue samples were independently tested for rabies and CDV by fluorescent antibody test. We tested a total of 478 animals for CDV, comprised of 10 wild and domestic carnivore species. A total of 15% (72/478) of all animals sampled tested positive for CDV, consisting of 24% (71/300) of raccoons and 4% (1/26) of coyotes (Canis latrans), but coinfection with rabies virus was not observed among CDV-positive animals. We extracted RNA from positive tissues, and a reverse-transcription PCR was used to create complementary DNA. We amplified and sequenced the hemagglutinin gene from 60 CDV-positive tissues, and a median joining network and maximum likelihood phylogenetic tree revealed two major lineages among samples. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that our sequences were most similar to the America-2 (n=55) and the America-3 (n=5) CDV lineages circulating in North America. Our results indicated two distinct and distantly related clades of CDV overlapping geographically and temporally among raccoon populations in northern Colorado.

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